“What makes you a real runner” : the conclusion

It’s a well documented fact that ever since the first time I laced up and went for a run, I have had this inner turmoil of not feeling like a real runner. There have been lists made that declared me a runner, and a few times where I’ve come close to feeling pretty legit. But I always felt like I was an imposter, like someone would call my bluff. Ever since I began running I’ve been trying to figure out what would be the tipping point to making me feel like part of the club. I decided that if ANYTHING, running a half marathon must be it- right? And so for the last few months I’ve been building up this great anticipation for the “Aha!” moment that I would feel as soon as I crossed the finish line. I figured light would shine down from above, confetti would be dumped over my head, and I would have a flashing neon sign on my back that said “Real Runner”. Ok clearly I’m exaggerating- but you get what I’m trying to say.

So imagine my “disappointment” (for lack of better words) when I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon… and none of those things happened. Did I feel proud? Absolutely. Accomplished? Of course. Exhausted? That too. Did I have a shit eating grin on my face? You bet your ass I did. But truth be told- I felt the same as I did the day before. And the day before that. And then the real light shined on me.

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I didn’t feel any different, any more of a “real runner” well… because I am one. I’ve been one. I know this isn’t rocket science. I know this has been said to me enough times to make a person’s head spin- but some things you’ve gotta figure out yourself. I get it now. Finishing a half marathon didn’t make me feel any more of a real runner because that’s who I’ve been all along.
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I was a runner that very first Saturday morning when I huffed and puffed from light pole to light pole on the beach. I was a runner when I forced myself to continue all summer, because I was convinced I would eventually get it. I was a runner when I woke up early every morning on vacation because I craved that peaceful path on the California Coast. I was a runner the first time I ran a mile, 5 miles, double digits, 13.1 miles. The first time I awkwardly tried to pin my bib on straight. When I finally ran a 5K without stopping to walk once. When I got so lost in my thoughts, I forgot I was running.

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I was a runner when I realized I could run and answer yes or no questions. When I was able to run and hold an entire conversation. When running became a way for a friend and I to vent, to decompress, to become closer. When I realized I had a whole group of friends… who were runners too.

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I was a runner when I got my first runner wave. My first (and second, and third, and forth) pair of running shoes. My first blister. My first foam roller. When I stood at Mile 25 of the Boston Marathon, 65 pounds overweight, thinking “there’s no way in hell I could ever do this”… but with a slight pang of jealousy. And then when I stood at the finish line a year later and thought “I will do this someday”.

I was a runner when I ran in the snow, in the rain, in the dark, in a mid-July heat wave. When I ran 3 races in 2 weeks. When the urgent care doctor asked me why I would run if it hurt- and I looked at her like she had asked the dumbest question in the entire world. When I went for a run because I was upset, because I was angry, because I was incredibly happy.
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I’ve been a runner all this time, from day one. I am a runner because I have good runs, bad runs, and in between runs. Because no matter how shitty the run I am ready to give it my all again the next day. I am a runner because running makes me feel alive. Because all I want is to run better, run faster, run further, run harder. I want PRs and new goals. I am a runner because I feel it in my soul- it’s been there long before my legs and lungs could figure out a way to all work together in unison. It didn’t take 13.1 miles for me to be a real runner, it just took 13.1 miles for me to understand it.

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About Kathleen

When your legs get tired run with your heart.

Posted on November 15, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Great post! Love it!

  2. Awesome post – I have thought the same in the past, but recently have started to feel like “yes, I’m a runner. A real one!”

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